From the Rector’s Study
Sunday, January 17th, 2021, Epiphany II, Anything Good
1 Samuel 3:1-10(11-20), Psalm 139: 1-5, 12-17, 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, John 1:43-51
Can anything good come out of Nazareth? We know from the continuation of the story that it does. But the question for us today is; can anything good come out of what we are facing today? With the isolation and restrictions and not being able to be with loved ones in nursing homes and hospitals. This to say nothing of front line workers, their sacrifice and doing the best they can keeping grocery stores and other essential businesses open and hospitals still caring for those in need of care.
I may have said this before, but this may be a test of character. It may not be that situations like we are in build character as much as reveal character.
Then we have what Paul says in Romans 5: 3-5 we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
Paul seems to think that character is produced by the suffering and the challenges of life. Maybe there is a sense of both/and. The previous challenges we face in live prepare us for the ones we are in now. Maybe this means finding a coping mechanism for surviving and getting through the challenges of life. It is well documented that some of the coping mechanisms worked well when we were younger and they were appropriate for that situation, but do not fit for future situations.
This seems to be true in this situation, as the isolation and social distancing has taken away significantly our ability to get the help we need to solve the problems we face today. We cannot just get someone to come help us, or go to a store to buy what we need to fix the problem, or have a social gathering to alleviate our feeling of being alone.
It calls us to be creative, in solving problems and also means perhaps, not taking ourselves and others for granted, not only at this time, but when we can get together again without restriction. And somehow the idea of this time is a time of wilderness comes to mind, and the temptations or understandings of Jesus in the wilderness may have something to say to us. Luke 4:1-13,
When Jesus says that One does not live by bread alone.’” This suggests that at this time we were maybe spending time and effort on non-essential items and perhaps this idea of simplifying is a lesson we have had to learn now and can continue forward beyond this time.
With the idea of power over all the world is a temptation, we can come to understand who we are is about relationship and sharing and caring with one another, the value of self and others is heightened and can it continue. And the value of the relationship we have with God and each other.
Who is being tested here? It is not God but us, not that God would deliberately put us in the situation but there can be learning from it about ourselves. It is not over, and it is not time to celebrate, but to feel good about us getting this far and keeping it together and that we don’t then either give up or stop doing what we are doing that is helpful and supportive of others. There may be small and safe ways we can reward ourselves for coming this far, and recognizing what we still have to be thankful for in our lives today.